The Story Behind The Old Rugged Cross
As a Methodist preacher, George Bennard wrote the first verse of "The Old Rugged Cross" in Albion, Michigan, in 1912 as a reply to ridicule that he had received at a revival meeting. Bennard traveled with Ed E. Mieras from Chicago to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where they held evangelistic meetings at the Friends Church from December 29, 1912, to January 12, 1913. During the meetings Rev. George Bennard finished "The Old Rugged Cross" and on the last night of the meetings, Bennard and Mieras performed it as a duet before a full house with Pearl Torstensen Berg, the organist for the meeting.
The hymn uses a sentimental popular song form with a verse/chorus pattern in 6,8 time and it speaks of the writer's adoration of Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary. Bennard retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town maintains a museum dedicated to his life and ministry. A memorial has also been created in Youngstown at Lake Park Cemetery. A plaque commemorating the first performance of the song stands in front of the Friend's Church in Sturgeon Bay, WI.
"The Old Rugged Cross" has been a country gospel favorite ever since it became the title song of Ernest Tubb's 1952 gospel album; it has been performed by some of the twentieth century's most influential recording artists.
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Popular Hymn Lyrics with Story and Meaning
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Nearer My God to Thee
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His Eye is On the Sparrow
Be Thou My Vision
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty
Playlist of Great Performances singing "The Old Rugged Cross"